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2005-09-05

Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff Refuses To Resign Over Handling Of Hurricane Katrina Relief

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Michael Chertoff appears on Meet the Press and defends the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina. [includes rush transcript]

Criticism continues to escalate over the federal response to hurricane Katrina. Both Democrats and Republicans have expressed outrage over the lack of coordination and the press has been unusually tough when pressing authorities for answers. On yesterday’s Meet the Press, host Tim Russert interviewed the Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff.

  • Tim Russert, host of Meet the Press
  • Michael Chertoff, Director of Homeland Security

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

TIM RUSSERT: Mr. Secretary are you or anyone who reports to you contemplating resignation?

MICHAEL CHERTOFF: Tim, what we’re contemplating now is the fact is that we’re very, very much in the middle after crisis. There’s a bit of a sense that you get that some people think it’s now time to draw a sigh of relief and go back and do the after-action analysis. There will be plenty of time for that. We obviously need to look very closely at things that worked well, and many things did worked well, and some things that did’t work well, and some things did not work well.

TIM RUSSERT: Mr. Secretary, you say pre-staged, people were sent to the Convention Center- there was no water. No food, no beds, no authorities there. There was no planning.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF: My understanding is— and again this is something that we’re going to go back over after the fact is— the plan that the New Orleans officials and the State Officials put together called for the Superdome to be the refuge of last resort. We became aware of the fact at some point that people began to go to the Convention Center on their own, spontaneously, in order to shelter there. I think it’s for that reason that people found themselves without food and water and supplies.

TIM RUSSERT: Mr. Secretary —

MICHAEL CHERTOFF: The challenge then became —

TIM RUSSERT: Mr. Secretary, there was no food or water at the Superdome, either.

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